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nature and constitution, opposed to God. As for the law of God, it does not feel nor own its obligation, nor until it is completely changed by the power of God, can it do so. Its nature is sinful, and must be regenerated before it can love God or his law. What is thus asserted may be proved by the least observation. Men every where are found in a state of rebellion against God. What he teaches they are indisposed to receive, and
ment, when to all his servants he will be able to say, in explanation of their kindness to him, 'inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' In short, love prompts to the universal obedience of Christ. This is his own test: 'If ye love me keep my commandments.' And the same is the rule of his beloved apostle John: 'Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.' And again he repeats the sentiment: 'He'the natural man receiveth not the things of the that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.'
By these evidences let us try our love to Christ. Let us deal faithfully with ourselves. And while we are encouraged by the apostolic blessing, ‘grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,' let us be warned by the awful sentence, if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be anathema, maranatha,'-accursed at the coming of our Lord.
For if, when we were enemies, we were recon-
WE are accustomed to reason from the past to
Spirit of God.' What he forbids they are disposed to do, and they go astray from the womb. What he requires they neglect, and say, We will not have him to rule over us. And the dispensations and appointments of his providence provoke them to murmuring and impatience, for they desire to follow their own ways. It is, therefore, not too much to declare that men are enemies to God.
Now it was when they were such that God was pleased to provide for their reconciliation to himself by the death of his Son. And on every part of this provision how clearly do we see his sovereign grace. It originated with himself, unsought by the offender. When our first parents not forth to confess their sin, and seek for pardon. sinned, they hid themselves from God, and came The promise of deliverance came wholly and freely
from God himself. Its nature was as gracious as its origin. It consisted in the humiliation, and suffering, and death of his own Son. Nothing else could suffice, and even this sacrifice was not withheld. By it the recovery of the sinner was completely secured. A new and living way of access was opened up for him to the pure and holy Being whom he had offended. Pardon was rendered compatible with the law and character of God. An atonement was made for sin, and nothing stood in the way to hinder the offender's return to God, if he could only be persuaded to embrace the provision of the gospel. And even this also was secured. The Holy Spirit was a part of the Saviour's purchase. He is sent into the heart, and inclines it to receive Christ. By It reminds us that we were enemies.' Enemies grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of to God. We were such by nature. No lan- yourselves, it is the gift of God.' Thus the guage could be stronger than that which is em- whole scheme is one of sovereign mercy from ployed by the apostle Paul to describe the natural first to last-its origin, its nature, its completeenmity of the human heart to God. The car-ness, its very application. And this last not less nal mind is enmity against God, for it is not so than any of all the rest. For however grasubject to the law of God, neither indeed can cious the dispensation, such is the blindness and be.' By the carnal mind is meant the disposition hardness of the sinner that, if left to himself, he which we inherit according to the flesh, and would never submit to it. He must be conwhich is as universal as human nature. This dis- strained by the same grace that originated and position is enmity, not merely discovering some completed it. And it is his consciousness of this symptoms of opposition, but radically, in its very that affects him perhaps as much as the scheme of
Shall he not then trust this gracious God for the future? Will not he who has begun so good a work in him carry it to perfection? Yes; here also the provision is complete. If the believer has been reconciled to God when an enemy, by the death of his Son, 'much more being reconciled shall he be saved by his life.' The death of Christ secured his reconciliation to God, and the life of Christ is abundant security that his salvation shall be completed.
By the life of Christ we are reminded of what he is, and does, and has undertaken to accomplish as our risen and exalted Saviour. All power has been given unto him in heaven and in earth.' He rose the conqueror of sin and satan, he ascended leading captivity captive, he has gone to heaven the representative and advocate of his people, he pleads their cause at God's right hand above, he sends out his Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces as these may be needed by them, he restrains their enemies, he controls and guides all the affairs of men, and he makes all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. All this, and far more, is implied in the saying of the apostle Paul, he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' And how noble the triumph of believers, celebrated by the apostle, as resting on this secure basis! "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, (yea rather that is risen again), who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,' Psal. cx. 3.
WHAT are we to understand by the day of power? This is determined by the context, in which there is a prediction of gospel times. Christ is congratulated by the Father upon his victory as the Saviour of men, ver. 1. The extension of his cause and truth is clearly foretold, ver. 2. And then, as the consequence of this, it is promised to him that his people should willingly submit themselves to him. By the day of power, therefore, we are to understand the gospel age and dispensation.
But why, or for what reason is the gospel so described? There is great propriety in the representation, and that for many reasons. The gospel was the age of miracles. It was long foretold that it should be so distinguished. Isaiah writes of it, 'Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.' When Christ came he applied these predictions to himself, and by an appeal to his own miraculous works proved that the Messiah was come in him. Again, the gospel is the ministration of the Spirit,' and is remarkably accompanied by his power. Compared with the full measure of the Spirit's influences, enjoyed under the gospel, it is said of all former dispensations, The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.' The new dispensation was opened by the miraculous effusion of his gifts and graces upon the day of Pentecost. The word preached by the apostles was accompanied by the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.' And they could appeal to their hearers, that they had preached the gospel unto them with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.' But besides these general interpretations, there is a view of 'the day of power' suggested by the expressions accompanying it, which it may be well particularly to notice. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning; thou hast the dew of thy youth.' Does it not foretell the time when the converts of the gospel would be as numerous and beautiful as the dew-drops of the morning, and that these would be found especially among the young? Assuming that this is a right interpretation, then by the day of power' is to be understood the day of conversion, when the Holy Spirit comes in mighty and saving operation upon the mind, quickening the conscience, renewing the heart, and creating the
sinner a new man in Christ Jesus. Such a time well as his Saviour. Whatever is shown to him is well called the day of power. Nothing but to be contrary to the will of Christ in his life he the mighty power of God can regenerate the is willing to abandon. We see in him the proof sinner. He hath saved us by the washing of of the testimony, 'God having raised up his Son regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Jesus, sent him to bless you in turning away which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus every one of you from his iniquities.' The grace Christ our Saviour.' He alone can correct our of the Spirit is seen in him, enabling him to rewayward dispositions, subdue our rebellious wills, nounce long-cherished and sinful practices, to change our sinful habits, and reform our evil obey the trying command, If thy right hand practices. When such a change is effected, it is offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.' Nor truly a day of power-saving and divine. is he merely made to cease from that which is evil, he is taught to do well. He feels the force of the remonstrance, and seeks to comply with its demands, Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are his.' He is willing to imitate Christ. He longs after greater conformity to him, desirous to have the mind in him that was also in Jesus, to walk even as he walked, to be pure as he was pure, benevolent as he was benevolent, self-denied, and holy, and devoted like him.
And let us now observe the result of such a day, and its gracious operations. The subjects of it are willing,' they become the voluntary servants of the Lord Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit their minds are so enlightened as clearly to discriminate between right and wrong, between good and evil; their hearts are so changed as to choose and take pleasure in the ways of God; their taste becomes spiritual, their affections heavenly, their desires pure, their pursuits righteous. Thus 'God worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' Their will and conduct he conforms to his own. Let us remember the service of the believer is not rendered in the spirit of a slave but a son. What he does for God he delights to do. He is emphatically WILLING.'
He is willing to be saved by Christ. He is willing to be a debtor to sovereign grace. Nor will anything but the power of Jehovah's Spirit ever make him so. The gospel is the last refuge of the sinner. Until he sees that either he must perish or embrace it, he will not embrace it. Self-righteousness is the great enemy of Christ. It can exist under any form. The great complaint of men, whether nominal Christians or heathens, unenlightened Protestants or degraded Papists, is the same. Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.' Only he who has felt the power of the Holy Ghost, perceives and receives the truth that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.' But he does understand and submit to
it. He humbles himself to be taught of God. He thankfully embraces this only hope of the sinner. And he willingly rejoices to say, 'I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; that I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God by faith.'
He is willing to honour Christ. Not only in his own heart, but in the world. He is zealous, yea, jealous for the honour of Jesus upon the earth. This makes him willing to contribute to his cause. He contributes of his substance, ‘a cheerful giver,' because he feels the power of the exhortation, Freely ye have received, freely give.' He contributes of his labour, in doing good as he has opportunity. He contributes of his time and talents, desiring to obey the command of his Lord, 'Occupy till I come,' and anticipating his summons, ' Give an account of thy stewardship.' Should difficulties arise, and disappointments, and distresses, and even persecutions, he is willing to bear them. God enables him to receive the consolation, Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.'
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me,' Rom. vii. 21. 'I WOULD do good.' So said Paul and so saith every believer. He has undergone an entire moral change, which lays the foundation of holiness in a regenerated heart. The language expressive of this change is singularly strong and pointed: We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works.' The believer is He is willing to have Christ for his master as the work of Jehovah's hand, who causes him to
undergo a revolution of character that changes | Paul says, 'I delight in the law of God after the all his principles and motives of action, and in inward man, but I see another law in my memvirtue of which he is led into the practice of good bers, warring against the law of my mind, and works. The same change is described by another bringing me into captivity to the law of sin apostle under another view, and he says of it, which is in my members.' It is by reason of 'whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, this old man, this corrupt and sinful nature, that for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin evil is present' with the believer. And so because he is born of God.' This meaning must much is this the case that Paul says, 'in me, that be that so far as he is a partaker of a new, re- is, in my flesh (in his old nature) there dwelleth generated nature, he does not commit sin. That no good thing.' As far as the new nature prenature is contrary to sin. It is pure as its own vails there is no sin; as far as the old nature author, and were there no other nature than this prevails there is nothing but sin. in man there would be no sin found in his life. This is the nature which is called in the scriptures the 'new man,' and whose voice is uttered in the earnest cry, 'I would do good.'
He desires to do good. This is his bent and inclination. It appears as soon as there is a work of grace in the soul. In the young convert it is singularly interesting. It cannot be repressed. It is ardent to be engaged. Often does it err in the way of doing good, and may many times transgress the limits of human prudence, yet the disposition is strong and inextinguishable, nor can it rest in indolent inaction.
He delights to do good. What he purposes does not arise from any constraining sense of duty merely. There is such a sense of duty, but there is something higher at the same time. He takes pleasure in his pursuits. The word of God is precious to his soul. The people of God are dear to his heart. The ordinances of God are the joy of his spirit. He 'delights in the law of God after the inward man,' approving it, applauding it, and anxiously aspiring after clearer views, and more hearty conformity to it.
And he does good. It is not all mere desire and purpose with him. God gives him, more or less, the desire of his heart, and he finds and embraces opportunities of doing good. The house of mourning, or the social meeting, or the dying bed, or the sabbath school, may be the scene of his labours. He must watch the providences of God, and follow them as his guide. In labouring in that department which God, he believes, has assigned him, he labours not in vain, but in due season shall he reap if he faint not.
But alas! When he would good, evil is present with him.' This arises out of remaining indwelling sin. For as there is a new nature, out of which all good desires and holy purposes arise, so there is an old nature upon which the new nature has been superinduced by the grace of God. There are thus in every believer both the new man and the old man. There is the law of the spirit of life, and the law of sin and of death. As
An evil heart is present. Its corruptions are not altogether destroyed. These discover themselves from time to time as there are provocations to call them forth. They are hard to be suppressed. The soil once barren, but now enriched by cultivation, is ever inclined to send forth its native evil fruit. And although the heart be renewed by grace, there is still a remaining depravity that attaches to it by nature, and inclines to manifest its evil dispositions.
An evil body is present. Its passions are strong. Its lusts cry for their gratification. By its infirmities it darkens the mind, by its propensities it pollutes the imaginations, by its weaknesses it incapacitates for duty. This is what Paul seems particularly to have felt when he cried out, 'O! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?'
An evil world is present. Its temptations are many. Its riches deceive, its pleasures allure, its ambition blinds the soul. Our Saviour well said, 'beware of men.' Man is the enemy of man. The ungodly seek to destroy the work of grace in the believer. They malign it, and persecute it, and thwart it. In the world ye shall have tribulation.'
Satan has access
An evil enemy is present. to the mind. He employs the corrupt heart, and the flesh, and the world, for his devices against the believer. All temptations are rendered stronger through his agency. We wrestle not against flesh and blood (merely) but against principalities, and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places.'
Such is the Christian life. This is its law. It is a controversy at the best. It is no doubt well that it is so, for it tends to our humiliation, and to the glory of Christ, and weans from this life, and makes us long for the next. And O! it is well that this law of the Christian's condition should be carefully considered and remembered. Let us not wonder at the strong temptations that beset us, but let us be prepared against them. The more we shall desire to do good the more
The understanding is not
may we expect evil to be present with us, through | previously existed. the hindrance of satan. Let us be vigilant. formed, but it is enlightened; the will is not called 'What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.' into being, but it is subdued; the passions are Let us be prayerful. 'Pray without ceasing.' not originated, but they are engaged with right 'Be vigilant, be sober, because your adversary objects; the affections are not produced, but they the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking are occupied aright. The renewal of a right whom he may devour.' Let us seek to grow in spirit. The disposition must be changed. As grace, 'bringing into captivity every thought to the it was before averse to God, it must be brought obedience of Christ.' And let us in faith, and to acquiesce in his will, and delight in his ways. hope, and patience, and purity, wait for the time And the law to which before it refused subjecwhen we shall lay down this body of sin and tion, must now be approved as holy, and just, death, be delivered from temptation, see Christ and good, and cheerfully chosen as the unvaryas he is, and be satisfied with his likeness. ing standard and rule. This was what David here so earnestly desired-the creation of a new heart, the renewal of a right spirit. He varies his language, more perhaps to express the fullness and fervour of his heart, than to give any different views of the object which he sought. Still, the
ing, and this much at least may we gather from it, that the change which he desired was thorough, radical, and universal.
'Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew variety of his language is not without its meana right spirit within me,' Psal. li. 10. WHAT earnestness is here! How it reproves the indifference with which we too often call upon God. There is no studied form of expression, but the very reiteration of thought and variation of language which might be expected when the heart is poured out. Let us consider what is sought, and from whom, and by whom it is sought.
From whom did he seek it? From God alone, for he alone was able to bestow it. The scriptures are pointedly full in representing the new birth to be a divine work. The language of the evangelist John is plain and instructive, saying, 'As many as received him, to them gave he power What is sought? The creation of a new heart, to become the sons of God, even to them that the renewal of a right spirit. All the terms believe on his name, which were born, not of employed are strongly expressive of the change blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will that was desired. A creation. To create is to of man, but of God.' The new birth is not of call into being that which before did not exist. blood-by no connection of the child with the And the work of the Spirit, in restoring the sin- parent, however godly that parent may be. Nor ner to holiness, produces a change as great as is it of the will of the flesh-arising from no dewhen he first called him into existence. The figure sire, nor effected by any power inherent in human of a new or second birth is therefore habitually nature. Nor yet of the will of man-produced used to illustrate this operation of divine grace. by no influence which one man can exercise over The creation of a new heart. This is the seat of another, however that may be the instrument in life, and therefore must it be sound if the func- the change. But of God-by the operation of tions of the body shall be properly discharged. the Holy Spirit on the mind, according to his The heart is the fountain, and it is only by its own pleasure, and by the exercise of his own purification the streams which issue from it can power. The description of the apostle Paul is be made pure. Christ has said, 'Out of the drawn from the work of the Spirit in creation, heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, and is as follows, God who commanded the fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies- light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our the things which defile a man.' If such defile- hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the ment would be avoided, the heart must be created glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.' The anew. A renewal. This supposes the previous same power that was necessary to reduce to order existence of powers, but that they require to be the rude chaos at the first creation, is no less restored to their right condition and exercise. necessary to the creation of a new heart, and the And when this term is connected with the for- renewal of a right spirit now. And it is needful mer, a creation, we have a just idea of the work to keep this truth in mind, not merely because it of regeneration. It is a change as great as in a is only thus the blessing can be obtained, but to new creation, yet it is not the production of any expect to obtain it otherwise discovers a defecnew powers, but a change upon those faculties that I tive apprehension of the nature of the work, be